A Mosquito's Code to Biting

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RENO, Nev. -- Have you ever wondered why it seems like mosquitoes are attracted to some people more than others? It is all in your genes and habits. Not only can mosquitoes cause allergic reactions, they can transmit deadly diseases. With the recent discovery of West Nile Virus in Northern Nevada, it's important to know why you might be a mosquito magnet.

"We went camping near Yuba Pass and I was literally getting attacked the whole time I was there. It was crazy!" A local Reno resident said.

"They are horrible, they are itchy and you're lucky if you don't get them," another woman said.

Mosquitoes are out for blood and they aren't too picky when i comes to their next meal, but they do have a preference.

"Mosquitoes tend to be more attracted to people with Blood type O rather than Blood type A," Dr. Maria Reyes of Northern Nevada Allergy said.

They're drawn by their sense of smell. Carbon dioxide and lactic acid can be rather enticing. According to a study in Gambia, pregnant woman are at a higher risk because they exhale more carbon dioxide.

"When we exert ourselves or have a lot of exercise, sweat can attract them, heat, light and sometimes even body odor," Dr. Reyes said.

Studies also show beer drinkers attract more mosquitoes.

Bites can be annoying, but they could lead to more serious conditions.

"If it's one of the first time that you're getting bitten, maybe you won't get any sort of reaction, but unfortunately as you get older and as you get more bites, it has an additive effect and you can end up getting bigger reactions that are more bothersome," she said.

If you don't want to be her next victim, avoid being outside between dusk and dawn because that's when they're most active. However, if you do get bitten, Dr. Reyes suggests using an over-the-counter cream without Benedryl in it or take antihistamine pills.

"The discomfort can start within hours to days after the bite and can actually last for a few days," she said.

Experts also say mosquitoes are attracted to dark colors, so stick to wearing whites, grays and yellows. Also, if you eat a lot of food with high amounts of potassium or salt, you might attract them more, so try eating more berries, watermelon and apples.

Unfortunately, nobody is immune to the pesky critters.

Washoe County Vector Control will have another mosquito abatement on August 7 from 6 a.m. to noon. It will cover areas from Stead to the Washoe Valley.